Monday, November 05, 2007

You think grain exports are doing well...

The puny dollar has been excellent news for exporters and grains have been one big winner. But consider this commodity:
A ton of U.S. coal is so cheap at about $47 that European utilities will pay $50 to ship it across the Atlantic, according to Galbraith's Ltd., a 263-year-old London shipbroker. While oil and coal cost the same as recently as 1998, West Texas Intermediate crude is five times more expensive after climbing to a record $96.24 on Nov. 1.

Peabody Energy Corp., Consol Energy Inc. and Arch Coal Inc., the three biggest U.S. coal companies, forecast the largest increase in exports in 20 years, degrading the call for a moratorium on coal plants by former U.S. Vice President and this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore. Coal use worldwide has grown 27 percent since 2002, three times faster than crude, said BP Plc. U.S. East Coast coal has risen 71 percent, while oil tripled on the New York Mercantile Exchange. [More]
The hunger for energy is still not viscerally acknowledged by most of us in the developed world. I think we would need a few weeks without power to grasp the importance. Any idea of constraining the demand in the developing world for electricity especially is naive at best - Nobel Prize not withstanding.
...there are 100 gigawatts of "illegal" electric power plants in China, meaning plants not approved by the central government. (The entire nation of France uses 80 gigawatts of power. China uses 650 gigawatts.) [More]
Absent a carbon tax or (poor second) emissions cap-and-trade schemes, emissions will continue to rise. And the brisk trade in coal can be the measure.

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